Building an Affordable Neckwear Collection
If you want to build a necktie wardrobe for not too much money, there’s no better place to start than eBay. At any given time, there are hundreds of silk repps floating around that site, many available for only $10 to $20 a piece. Striped silk repp ties, as I’ve mentioned, are exceptionally useful because you can wear them with either sport coats or suits, whereas some ties are too casual to wear with one, or too formal to wear with the other. 
To find them, just search eBay for well-regarded American brands such as Ben Silver, Brooks Brothers, J. Press, and Paul Stuart. Seaward & Stearn and Atkinsons are also good names to look out for, although they’re usually available at lower quantities. E. Marinella and Drake’s are undeniably exceptional, but typically sell at much higher prices. Ralph Lauren can also be nice, although he carries such a wide range of lines - each made to different qualities - that it can be hard to find what’s well made. If you care to sort through it all, just look for the blue Polo label or the high-end Purple Label. 
The only problem with shopping on eBay is that it can be difficult to discern a tie’s condition. Most sellers can tell if there’s a pull or stain in the silk, but this is hardly the only damage that can occur. If a tie has been sent to the dry cleaners, for example, the silk will have likely lost its luster, and if it’s been wrongly ironed, you’ll see an impression of the tie’s folds pressed into the front blade. The slip stitch that goes up the back spine might also be loose or even broken from improper yanking, and the neck area might be faded or overly worn, making the tie’s knot a slightly lighter color than the rest of the body. Worst of all is if the previous owner never let his tie rest after each day’s wear, but instead kept it knotted, so that he wouldn’t ever have to retie it again. This will ruin the interlining inside, making it difficult for you to ever get a good dimple. It’s rare that you’ll come across a seller who knows how to look for these kinds of defects. 
Still, for $10-15, not much is lost if you get a bad piece, and even if the tie doesn’t come in the most perfect condition, this might not be a bad thing. The men who wear silk repp ties best are often wearing pieces that are ten or twenty years old, and their ties have a sort of worn-in quality that makes them more appealing than things that look too new or pristine. Set aside $100 or so and stick to dark colors (e.g. burgundy, forest green, brown, and navy), and you’ll have a pretty good starting collection in no time. 
(Photo via Oxford Cloth Button Down)

Building an Affordable Neckwear Collection

If you want to build a necktie wardrobe for not too much money, there’s no better place to start than eBay. At any given time, there are hundreds of silk repps floating around that site, many available for only $10 to $20 a piece. Striped silk repp ties, as I’ve mentioned, are exceptionally useful because you can wear them with either sport coats or suits, whereas some ties are too casual to wear with one, or too formal to wear with the other. 

To find them, just search eBay for well-regarded American brands such as Ben Silver, Brooks Brothers, J. Press, and Paul Stuart. Seaward & Stearn and Atkinsons are also good names to look out for, although they’re usually available at lower quantities. E. Marinella and Drake’s are undeniably exceptional, but typically sell at much higher prices. Ralph Lauren can also be nice, although he carries such a wide range of lines - each made to different qualities - that it can be hard to find what’s well made. If you care to sort through it all, just look for the blue Polo label or the high-end Purple Label. 

The only problem with shopping on eBay is that it can be difficult to discern a tie’s condition. Most sellers can tell if there’s a pull or stain in the silk, but this is hardly the only damage that can occur. If a tie has been sent to the dry cleaners, for example, the silk will have likely lost its luster, and if it’s been wrongly ironed, you’ll see an impression of the tie’s folds pressed into the front blade. The slip stitch that goes up the back spine might also be loose or even broken from improper yanking, and the neck area might be faded or overly worn, making the tie’s knot a slightly lighter color than the rest of the body. Worst of all is if the previous owner never let his tie rest after each day’s wear, but instead kept it knotted, so that he wouldn’t ever have to retie it again. This will ruin the interlining inside, making it difficult for you to ever get a good dimple. It’s rare that you’ll come across a seller who knows how to look for these kinds of defects. 

Still, for $10-15, not much is lost if you get a bad piece, and even if the tie doesn’t come in the most perfect condition, this might not be a bad thing. The men who wear silk repp ties best are often wearing pieces that are ten or twenty years old, and their ties have a sort of worn-in quality that makes them more appealing than things that look too new or pristine. Set aside $100 or so and stick to dark colors (e.g. burgundy, forest green, brown, and navy), and you’ll have a pretty good starting collection in no time. 

(Photo via Oxford Cloth Button Down)

It’s On Sale: E. Marinella and Drake’s Ties

A selection of neckties by E. Marinella and Drake’s are on sale at Gilt today, with prices starting at $79. Included in the bunch are some navy foulards, like the ones you see above, which would go very well with any conservative suit. 

Finding An Eyewear Case
It’s been unexpectedly wet and cloudy in San Francisco, but to prepare for what should be a real summer, I recently went in search for an eyewear case. Having to wear eyeglasses all the time means that I need some place to put my regular frames when I put on sunglasses, and although eyewear often comes with cases, none of them are particularly attractive.
I found mine through Ghurka. It’s a tan leather sleeve with a sueded interior and nicely turned edges (meaning the leather on the edges is turned inward and stitched down, rather than being left exposed). I like that it’s simple enough that I can use just one hand to hold the sleeve and slip my glasses in (useful if you’re on the run and carrying a bag of some sort). It also fits comfortably in my interior coat pocket. The leather quality leaves much to be desired, however, and for the price, I was hoping for something better.
Still, I decided to keep it, as it seemed to be the best option for my needs. In my search though, I found a number of options that might work better with a backpack or briefcase. La Portegna, Glenroyal, Freeman’s Sporting Club, Makr, and Emil Erwin, for example, make softly shaped cases that give a bit more protection. They’re not exactly hardcases, per se, but  should your case ever wind up at the bottom of a bag, their fuller shape should fare better than a simple sleeve.
I also like this unique design by Tanner Goods, but it requires a bit more work to open and close. Probably not good for someone who’s always on the run, but it looks nice.
If you’re interested in other sleeve designs besides Ghurka’s, there’s Daines & Hathaway, Barrett Alley, and Col. Littleton. I also liked the uniqueness of these silk repp striped sleeves sold by Ben Silver, Shibumi, and E. Marinella.
Finally, for something just cheap and simple, you can find these Ralph Lauren cases all over eBay for about $25 (just search around). The material isn’t that great, but the front side is completely hard, which is nice if you’re a bit rough on your things.

Finding An Eyewear Case

It’s been unexpectedly wet and cloudy in San Francisco, but to prepare for what should be a real summer, I recently went in search for an eyewear case. Having to wear eyeglasses all the time means that I need some place to put my regular frames when I put on sunglasses, and although eyewear often comes with cases, none of them are particularly attractive.

I found mine through Ghurka. It’s a tan leather sleeve with a sueded interior and nicely turned edges (meaning the leather on the edges is turned inward and stitched down, rather than being left exposed). I like that it’s simple enough that I can use just one hand to hold the sleeve and slip my glasses in (useful if you’re on the run and carrying a bag of some sort). It also fits comfortably in my interior coat pocket. The leather quality leaves much to be desired, however, and for the price, I was hoping for something better.

Still, I decided to keep it, as it seemed to be the best option for my needs. In my search though, I found a number of options that might work better with a backpack or briefcase. La Portegna, Glenroyal, Freeman’s Sporting Club, Makr, and Emil Erwin, for example, make softly shaped cases that give a bit more protection. They’re not exactly hardcases, per se, but  should your case ever wind up at the bottom of a bag, their fuller shape should fare better than a simple sleeve.

I also like this unique design by Tanner Goods, but it requires a bit more work to open and close. Probably not good for someone who’s always on the run, but it looks nice.

If you’re interested in other sleeve designs besides Ghurka’s, there’s Daines & Hathaway, Barrett Alley, and Col. Littleton. I also liked the uniqueness of these silk repp striped sleeves sold by Ben Silver, Shibumi, and E. Marinella.

Finally, for something just cheap and simple, you can find these Ralph Lauren cases all over eBay for about $25 (just search around). The material isn’t that great, but the front side is completely hard, which is nice if you’re a bit rough on your things.

April Fools, Menswear Edition
Sunday is April Fool’s Day, which reminds me of a funny little story Maurizio Marinella told me when I was in Italy last January. As you may know, Maurizio is the proprietor of E. Marinella, which is perhaps one of the most famous tie companies in the world. During the holiday season, the line at their flagship store goes out the door and around the block. Everyone knows that you can’t go wrong with giving an E. Marinella tie to someone who loves neckwear. 
Well, some customers apparently also save the packaging for April Fool’s Day. They wrap these boxes up and send them to colleagues as gifts. The guy on the other side, of course, gets very excited to see the blue box stamped with “E. Marinella” on the top. When he opens the box, however, he finds some unwearable silk tie with Bugs Bunny’s face or little Hawaiian girls. 
So if you’re looking for a little fun this Sunday …
(Photo from tate.cloths)

April Fools, Menswear Edition

Sunday is April Fool’s Day, which reminds me of a funny little story Maurizio Marinella told me when I was in Italy last January. As you may know, Maurizio is the proprietor of E. Marinella, which is perhaps one of the most famous tie companies in the world. During the holiday season, the line at their flagship store goes out the door and around the block. Everyone knows that you can’t go wrong with giving an E. Marinella tie to someone who loves neckwear. 

Well, some customers apparently also save the packaging for April Fool’s Day. They wrap these boxes up and send them to colleagues as gifts. The guy on the other side, of course, gets very excited to see the blue box stamped with “E. Marinella” on the top. When he opens the box, however, he finds some unwearable silk tie with Bugs Bunny’s face or little Hawaiian girls. 

So if you’re looking for a little fun this Sunday …

(Photo from tate.cloths)

Quality as Taste
A friend of mine recently asked me for my opinion on what makes a well-made tie, and the conversation got me thinking about quality in general. You often find men on various online forums debating which items are better made than others. Some even go through the trouble of making incredibly detailed hierarchal lists. There are objective and subjective criteria for judging quality, however, and I think one should be careful not to confuse the two. 
For example, you should only buy ties that easily return to their shape after they’ve been knotted and unknotted. If they don’t, terrible creases can form along the neckband, which will eventually make them difficult to wear. Something like this would be an objective dimension to quality. 
Then there is the subjective, by which I mean things that are very open to taste. For me, I like a tie that dimples well, but I’ve seen a few smart dressers who wear ties without one. In addition, I like my ties to arch a little, then drape down, and have some gentle movement to them throughout the day. The fabric, in my opinion, looks best when it shows off its natural characteristics. I also prefer slightly smaller, elongated knots, although this isn’t always easily found. These characteristics – the dimple, drape, and knot – all have to do with the material, lining, and cut.  
Outside of that, there are small, artisanal details. E&G Cappelli ties, for example, have more visible handstitching and Vanda’s have a higher bar tacks so that you can easily peek at the folds. However, there are also makers who don’t exhibit any of these qualities, such as Drake’s or Ralph Lauren, and they’re still excellent ties.  
What some people pass off as objective criteria for quality can often be something very subjective. You can compare it to wine or whiskey (or anything that has some artisanal dimension). There are obviously bad whiskeys, but among the good ones, a lot of this is about preference and taste. Brooks Brothers’ ties, for example, don’t have any the artisanal detailing, but they’re still excellent and cost a fraction of what luxury-end makers charge. If you wait for their sales, you can get them at ~40% off. Likewise, there’s no reason to debate whether Cappelli is better than Vanda, as they each offer a different “taste.” 
Like with almost anything, the only way to really figure out what you prefer is to try things in every tier. If you try enough things, you’ll eventually develop an opinion. If you’re at a store that sells cheap, polyester ties, try one on. If you come across a Drake’s or other similar luxury-end brand, also try one on. It would be impossible know what people mean by “better drape” or “better knot” until you do. Or, more importantly, whether you care about such things enough to pay the premiums. 
Picture above taken from E. Marinella

Quality as Taste

A friend of mine recently asked me for my opinion on what makes a well-made tie, and the conversation got me thinking about quality in general. You often find men on various online forums debating which items are better made than others. Some even go through the trouble of making incredibly detailed hierarchal lists. There are objective and subjective criteria for judging quality, however, and I think one should be careful not to confuse the two. 

For example, you should only buy ties that easily return to their shape after they’ve been knotted and unknotted. If they don’t, terrible creases can form along the neckband, which will eventually make them difficult to wear. Something like this would be an objective dimension to quality. 

Then there is the subjective, by which I mean things that are very open to taste. For me, I like a tie that dimples well, but I’ve seen a few smart dressers who wear ties without one. In addition, I like my ties to arch a little, then drape down, and have some gentle movement to them throughout the day. The fabric, in my opinion, looks best when it shows off its natural characteristics. I also prefer slightly smaller, elongated knots, although this isn’t always easily found. These characteristics – the dimple, drape, and knot – all have to do with the material, lining, and cut.  

Outside of that, there are small, artisanal details. E&G Cappelli ties, for example, have more visible handstitching and Vanda’s have a higher bar tacks so that you can easily peek at the folds. However, there are also makers who don’t exhibit any of these qualities, such as Drake’s or Ralph Lauren, and they’re still excellent ties.  

What some people pass off as objective criteria for quality can often be something very subjective. You can compare it to wine or whiskey (or anything that has some artisanal dimension). There are obviously bad whiskeys, but among the good ones, a lot of this is about preference and taste. Brooks Brothers’ ties, for example, don’t have any the artisanal detailing, but they’re still excellent and cost a fraction of what luxury-end makers charge. If you wait for their sales, you can get them at ~40% off. Likewise, there’s no reason to debate whether Cappelli is better than Vanda, as they each offer a different “taste.” 

Like with almost anything, the only way to really figure out what you prefer is to try things in every tier. If you try enough things, you’ll eventually develop an opinion. If you’re at a store that sells cheap, polyester ties, try one on. If you come across a Drake’s or other similar luxury-end brand, also try one on. It would be impossible know what people mean by “better drape” or “better knot” until you do. Or, more importantly, whether you care about such things enough to pay the premiums. 

Picture above taken from E. Marinella

“A basic wardrobe of a smart man should have at least five ties. This should include one self-coloured dark blue; one for ceremonies with a blue background and small white drawings; one Regimental stripes with dark blue as the main color; and one lighter, in pastel hues, to be used in the morning. Considering my Neapolitan essence, I’d also suggest a more showy tie - bright sky-blue, bright yellow, or white. According to the rule, ‘light ties should be worn in the morning, dark ties in the evening.’ As for the striped ties, they should be proposed with a dark blue jacket and grey trousers.” — Maurizio Marinella of E. Marinella
Oh daaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaang

Oh daaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaang

Consider Buff

In classic men’s style, it’s often easier to wear darker ties because a man’s tie is supposed to be darker than his shirt. There are a few exceptions, however. Take for example, ties with a buff-colored background. Buff is a kind of pale yellow-brown color that got its name from buff leather. The color is mostly seen on formal and informal waistcoats, but every so often, you’ll see it on ties as well. 

The picture above is from Patrick Johnson. It shows a man wearing a buff colored tie with a navy striped suit and light-blue dress shirt. The two tones of blue are subdued and conservative, and they contrast and complement well with the brightly colored tie. This would work just as well with a dark brown sport coat and a white and grey striped dress-shirt, especially if you were wearing it during a cool autumn or cold winter season. 

The most versatile ties will always be in dark blues, browns, greens, and reds, but it doesn’t hurt to have a little variety here and there. Buff colored ties can help you stand out without being loud or obnoxious, and they look great if you pair them with the right colors. You can get wool challis ties in this color right now from Drake’s, but if you want something a bit more affordable, there are also these options from Ralph Lauren and E. Marinella on eBay, as well as this Madder print from Sam Hober. Land’s End and Brooks Brothers have some that are a bit more yellow in tone, but I suppose they could also work in the same way. 

Christian Kerber has some wonderful photographs of Naples, a southern city in Italy that is known for its bespoke tailoring. 

Naples’ tailoring has always held a special place in the hearts of menswear enthusiasts. There are a few reasons, but one of them, I think, is that the city holds a lot of “Old World” charm. There is more to bespoke tailoring than just the garments you get - there is the experience. In Naples, you can get luxurious garments made in some of the oldest and most traditional handcrafting methods, but for prices that are far more affordable than what you’d find in London. 

Kerber’s photographs capture the romance of that experience fairly well. Here we see Antonio Panico giving a suit fitting, Maurizio Marinella going over a custom tie order, and some of Anna Mattuozo’s custom shirt patterns. These people are, literally, some of the best in their respective trades. 

Check out the rest of Kreber’s portfolio if you have a chance. The guy is a fantastic photographer.